How to Prepare For Your First Workaway Experience: Essential Steps and Tips

Whether you’ve stumbled across us on Instagram, your friend hasn’t shut up about their host in Vietnam or you’ve found us after a quick Google Search - we’re happy to have you here! If you have decided Workaway is right for you and now you’re looking for the best way to prepare for your first Workaway experience, consider this guide your handy little checklist. From creating a profile to packing, visas to vaccinations this is the ultimate guide for helping you feel confident, prepared and excited for your very first volunteering adventure

solo female traveller workawaying on a sailboat and closing her eyes while feeling the sea breeze

Research and Planning

Questions to Ask Yourself

Once you join Workaway, there are over 50,000 opportunities at your fingertips. Overwhelming yet exciting in equal measures, right? So how do you decide where to start? We recommend you ask yourself these 5 questions before your first Workaway. This will help narrow down your travel goals, destination and Workaway experience you’d enjoy. Also, check out the most common questions from Workaway newbies, as they’ll bring clarity and confidence for using the platform before your search begins.

Type of Volunteer Work

Once you have those questions answered, it’s time to narrow down the type of volunteer work that aligns with your skills and interests. Beekeeping in New Zealand? Surf camp in Portugal? NGO in Brazil? We have hosts in over 170 countries so this may be a time consuming (but fun) task! Luckily we have a handy guide to help you. Check out our guide to the types of volunteer work on Workaway as it also includes a fun quiz that matches your personality to a project.

Identify your Interests and Skills 

Next, write two lists: one is a list of all the things you are good at. This could be DIY, photography, yoga, dog walking, painting, speaking Italian etc etc. Then, write a second list of all the things you enjoy doing. Compare both lists - where do they overlap? 

As Workaway is a cultural exchange, we want you to not only share your skills, but take part in a project you know you’ll enjoy. You will gain far more from your first (and every) Workaway project if you find one that not only aligns with your interests and skills but that you will find genuinely fun too.

It’s also a perfect time to identify any gaps in your skill set. What do you want to learn? What do you wish you were better at? Workaway is an excellent way to grow your skills for example learn a new language, or test drive a new career. This will help determine the type of project you want to do for your first Workaway. 

group of hosts and workawayers holding a ladder and climbing up a simple outdoor roof for inspection and maintenance

Make Your Profile then Make It Sparkle

From dating apps to social media, we all know how to make a profile. We’ve made hundreds in our lifetime but a Workaway profile is different. Consider it your travel CV - include where you’ve been, where you dream of going and most importantly what you can bring to the party! 

Those skill lists you made before? Use them on your profile as this will help you stand out from the crowd when it comes to finding your first Workaway host. Don’t forget photos and videos that show off those skills whether it’s cat sitting or cooking - your potential host needs to know you’re the real deal. Check out these 5 tips to help your profile stand out so your dream host will say yes!

Find a Travel Buddy

Fun fact: You can join Workaway as a couple, a family or a solo traveller. If it’s your first Workaway or you’ve been on the road a while, you may also be looking for a travel buddy and we can help with that too. Having a travel buddy on hand is great to help you navigate the twists and turns of travelling as well as share costs, memories and meals with. 

We offer a wealth of ways to help you find a travel buddy, whether it’s long term or a one off adventure. You can search by travel dates, destination, age and languages. 

group of workawayers with muddy hands and faces smiling at the camera after eco project task

Finding a Host

How to find the right host

Admin out the way, it’s now time for the fun part - finding a host! There are so many ways to find a host to ensure you find the perfect match. You could either filter by destination, host type or through keywords. You can then filter by the accommodation type, dates you’re available and the type of help you can offer

Still struggling to choose? We have a wealth of guides to help you feel informed and excited about the type of host you’ll choose for your first Workaway. From hostels to house sitting, solo travel to social impact projects, use our community as your guidebook - it covers every question and concern you may have before your first Workaway. 

For example:

Questions to Ask Your Host Before You Arrive 

You may now have one dream host in mind, you may have a favourites list as long as your bucket list. Either way, your next step is to get the details organised. This means asking your Workaway host these important questions. From schedules to sleeping arrangements, it’s vital you and your host are on the same page before you arrive. Having these answers will also help you feel confident and comfortable, ready to embrace your best adventure yet!

workaway host and workawayers gathering produce and frolicking while smiling


We’ll keep this part short and sweet because, logistics = yawn. It is important however to get it right, because the finer details can make or break your first Workaway experience. Once you’ve found a host, make sure you tick these essentials off your list. 

Visas & Passport

Having a valid passport is an obvious one, but having a valid visa is something travellers often forget. Double check the government website of the country you are visiting which Visa you require. This may have an additional cost too, so it’s worth finding out asap so you can factor this into your budget.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is vital for any adventure - whether it’s your first Workaway or your fifth. Not only will it cover any emergencies and medical fees but it can help cover the costs of cancelled flights, lost or stolen belongings and more. 


Similar to insurance, vaccinations are another safety net you don’t want to travel without. Although they can be expensive, the medical fees if you don’t have them and end up ill will be far more painful on your bank balance. Some countries may not even let you in without proof of certain vaccinations so again, check with the local government website for the most up to date information.

solo workawayer on a snowmobile skidoo and cheering


How much money you need for your first Workaway is impossible to answer. The majority of hosts offer free accommodation plus three meals a day in exchange for your time and skills (approximately 5 hours a day.) This will vary however so always check with your host before you arrive. 

You may want to go sightseeing on days off, hire a car, dine out occasionally or buy gifts for family back home. This will all impact how much money you’ll need. Don’t worry though, there are so many fun ways to make money for your travels that can help boost your adventure funds. We also have rounded up our top tips to save money on the road to ensure your budget lasts the duration of your bucket list. 

Have money on the mind? We’ve all been there! Luckily for you there are so many ways Workaway can save you money, not to mention our extensive list of guides to help you find paradise without the price tag. Consider these blog posts your budget BFF’s: 

pair of workawayers in front of a brick oven and showing baskets of baked bread


Host? Tick. Visa? Tick. Budget? Tick. Now it’s time to pack! While we recommend packing these 10 essentials for your Workaway, your host may ask you to bring some specific items too. For example, depending on the wildlife or weather, you may need waterproofs, insect repellent, sun hat or hiking boots. 

It’s important to remember packing for your first Workaway isn’t like packing for a holiday. Leave the fancy outfits and designer trainers at home. Depending on the Workaway project you choose, your clothing may get dirty, your laptop may never be used and your sunglasses a waste of time. 

Instead pack light, but pack practical. Less items means less stress as you’ll have less to remember and carry. 

workawayer with travel backpack in front of 'orxeta' road sign hitchhiking

Top Tips


As well as packing protective clothing, we’ve a few safety tips you shouldn’t leave home without. Having the right documents and clothing is all well and good, but the right knowledge is also essential for a safe and stress free trip. 

Whether it's your first Workaway or you’ve been using the platform for years, your safety is paramount to us. We manually review every profile to ensure only those with the best intentions use Workaway. Have a thorough read through our safety section for added peace of mind. This covers everything you need to know from insurance to emergency help

If it is your first Workaway solo, check out our guide on how to Workaway safely as a solo traveller. It may also put your (or your mum’s!) mind at ease if you have any concerns about using Workaway for the first time. 

solo female traveller on one leg and posing on a hilltop

Solo Female Travel

Your first adventure solo can be nerve wracking regardless of gender, but for women in particular we have a few guides in place to help you feel calm and confident before your first Workaway. Our guide to solo female travel not only covers safety tips but also success stories from fearless females around the world who have used Workaway to fuel their wanderlust. 

LGBTIQ+ Travel

Here at Workaway we celebrate diversity and love daily, but we know this isn’t the case for all. If it is your first Workaway, you may be feeling particularly apprehensive about choosing a destination where you feel accepted. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on our favourite LGBTIQ+ friendly destinations that go beyond mere tolerance. 

These destinations proudly showcase their support for the LGBTIQ+ community, creating spaces where love is celebrated, and individuality is cherished. From Canada to Colombia, each of these destinations embraces anyone and everyone who identifies as an expression of the rainbow spectrum as well as the freedom to be your authentic self. 

workaway couple pair jumping with joy and dancing on an open road

Cultural Sensitivity


Workaway is one of the best ways to learn a language as it encourages total immersion. However, before your first Workaway we recommend you learn a few basic phrases so you can ask for directions, order food, find transportation, and get assistance in case of an emergency

While there are many apps or audio books that can help you learn these phrases, you can actually find your very own language partner using the Workaway platform. Finding someone you click with will help you pick up the language in no time. Having an actual human to interact with instead of an app, also means you can ask questions, only learn the useful phrases you’ll actually use and have support on pronunciations. 

two workawayers chatting on a balcony over coffee

Learn Local Customs and Traditions

This is something you may want to double check with your host, but doing a little research on the country’s customs and traditions will help you feel confident and informed before your arrival. It could also avoid you getting into trouble unnecessarily or starting off on the wrong foot. For example research into religious practices, dress codes, greetings, cultural festivals and more. 


Again, this will vary depending on your destination and your host however your dietary requirements should be communicated well in advance. By all means you can still travel the world as a vegan, or enjoy Workaway if you’re celiac but make sure the country you are visiting won’t make this difficult. Check out our guide on how to make the most of your trip with dietary restrictions to make sure you stay healthy and happy for the duration of your trip. 

group of workawayers preparing a shared meal together

Even the most experienced traveller may get nervous for their first Workaway, so know you’re not alone. Nerves are normal. While it's essential to acknowledge potential risks and difficulties, let's emphasise the multitude of reasons why following your dream will be worth it. 

Armed with these tips you’ll be able to confidently take the plunge and hit send on that request to your first Workaway host. You’ll feel comfortable in embracing the unpredictable and feel ready for the chaos, connection and community that volunteering with Workaway will bring. Don’t forget to let us know how it goes - you got this!
group photo of workaway project for all ages smiling and waving at camera

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About Lauren

Growing up in a small coastal village in Scotland inspired Lauren to seek adventure and challenge the norm. Armed with just her backpack and trusty travel companion Darren, she quit her day job to liv... show more...

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